The last missing trigger of type 1 diabetes is finally found
Research at the University of Lincoln led by Dr Michael Christie has revealed the final piece of the puzzle in terms of what the immune system attacks to cause type 1 diabetes.
It has long been known that the immune system in people with type 1 diabetes attacked 5 key targets but working out the fifth and final one has taken over 20 years.
Type 1 diabetes occurs in children and young adults and results from their body’s own immune system destroying insulin-producing beta cells in part of the pancreas called the islets of Langerhans.
The progress of the condition typically takes 6 to 9 months during which time the person has no symptoms and blood glucose is normal.
The problem is, once the disease is picked up, it is too late to halt its progress and there is currently no known effective strategy to prevent the autoimmune destruction once its progress has started.
However, it is hoped that, by identifying all the specific targets within the immune system, we can find a way to block the immune response in the first place thus preventing the onset of type 1 diabetes
It is now known that the 5 targets are:
- Glutamate decarboxylase
- Zinc transporter-8
- And the finally identified target – tetraspanin-7
Having an understanding of the complete picture could well transform the care of type 1 diabetes patients. As Diabetes UK has said, these findings are impressive.
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